Thai soldier killed less than one day after ceasefire agreed with Cambodia

April 29th, 2011 - 7:41 pm ICT by BNO News  

BANGKOK, THAILAND (BNO NEWS) — Less than one day after Thailand and Cambodia agreed to ceasefire, border clashes erupted overnight, killing one Thai soldier, as four others were injured on the eighth day of clashes, officials said Friday.

Thailand’s 2nd Army spokesman Col. Prawit Hookaew told the Bangkok Post that sporadic skirmishes broke out hours after the ceasefire was announced, but the situation had begun to ease down, although it remained tense.

According to reports, at around 8:55 p.m. local time, hour-long fighting broke out just east of the Ta Kwai temple, on the border in Surin. Early Friday morning, at around 2 a.m., clashes continued for around three and a half hours, which resulted in the death of the Thai soldier.

Deputy Prime Minister in charge of security affairs Suthep Thaugsuban explained that personal firearms were used during the clashes near two temples close to the countries’ borders. Because of this, the ceasefire had not been considered breached. However, if heavy weapons are utilized in any occassion, Thaugsuban added, the agreement would no longer be valid.

Furthermore, Col. Prawit said Cambodian military leaders had apologized for the situation, saying the clashes broke out due to a misunderstanding, as Thai and Cambodian soldiers on high alert stood around 50 to 200 meters from each other, and suspicious noises could have triggered shooting.

On Thursday, Thai 2nd Army commander Lt. Gen. Tawatchai Samutsakhon and Lt. Gen. Chea Mon, the 4th Army Region chief of Cambodia, agreed verbally to a ceasefire.

Since last Friday, both countries have clashed in their border regions, as both Cambodia and Thailand claim the 4.6 square kilometer area near the ancient Preah Vihear temple on their shared border, which has never been formally established. Cambodia requested Indonesian observers to mediate in the conflict but Thailand denied.

The recent fighting has resulted in the death of 16 people - 7 Thai soldiers and 8 Cambodian troops. In addition, around 45,000 people have been forced to evacuate their villages in Thailand, while another 30,000 fled in Cambodia.

Last Monday, clashes erupted near the Ta Muen Thom temple in Thailand’s eastern Surin province, and on Tuesday, fighting spread near the Preah Vihear temple, which is around 160 kilometers (100 miles) east of the Ta Krabey temple.

Tensions first escalated between the two countries in July 2008 following the build-up of military forces near the 900-year-old Preah Vihear temple. The United Nations Security Council urged both sides to establish a permanent ceasefire after at least 10 people were killed.

Clashes resumed in February as both nations claim the lands surrounding the ancient Hindu Temple, which has been damaged due to the conflict. The Preah Vihear temple dates back to the 11th century and is located on the Cambodian side of the border.

In 2008, it was inscribed on the World Heritage List in recognition of its outstanding universal value. It is considered an outstanding example of Khmer architecture and consists of a complex of sanctuaries linked by pavements and staircases on an 800-meter-long axis.

Thailand and Cambodia are scheduled to meet in next month’s ASEAN summit, which is scheduled to take place in Indonesia. In addition, Thai Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya also has an appointment to meet with ASEAN chairman Marty Natalegawa on Thursday.

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